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Dartford Warblers and the 'Beasts from the East'

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Old Sunday 18th March 2018, 18:47   #1
Sharp Shin
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Dartford Warblers and the 'Beasts from the East'

With a long series of mild winters in the heathlands of SE England, the populations of Dartford Warblers have done really well. However, with the recent ‘arctic’ cold snaps (the Beast and the Mini-Beast from the East), I wonder if there’s been a serious adverse impact. During the intervening spell of milder weather, I had a couple of walks over Suffolk heathlands where, in recent years, I’ve regularly heard and seen Dartford Warblers in March. This year there was neither sight nor sound! I may have just missed them, but I'm fearing not.

Anyone else got recent experiences (or lack of) to share?

Stewart

PS The same story, in a different environment, might hold for Cetti’s Warbler.
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Old Sunday 18th March 2018, 19:42   #2
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Had singing Cettis Warblers in Weymouth just after the first beast so I think there being holding upin at least small numbers.
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Old Monday 19th March 2018, 04:30   #3
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A few Cetti's reported around London over the weekend.
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Old Monday 19th March 2018, 07:16   #4
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I think that the critical thing is not just snow and low temperatures but also the length of the period of freezing temperatures and duration of snow cover. If the cold snap and snow cover is relatively short (as may be the case) then there should not be the sort of drastic declines as witnessed in the winter of 62/63 for example (although we didn't have Cetti's back then!).
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Old Monday 19th March 2018, 07:35   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
I think that the critical thing is not just snow and low temperatures but also the length of the period of freezing temperatures and duration of snow cover. If the cold snap and snow cover is relatively short (as may be the case) then there should not be the sort of drastic declines as witnessed in the winter of 62/63 for example (although we didn't have Cetti's back then!).
Yes, I think that's key. I wasn't around in 1963, but got the impression that was much worse, and for much longer. I'm near the New Forest, and you can still see some greenery, so I am guessing the Dartfords can feed, and find shelter to some extent.
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Old Monday 19th March 2018, 11:15   #6
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The unfortunate thing, at least here in Devon, is that almost all the 'lowland heath' that Dartfords inhabit is minimum almost 200m altitude, and a good deal of it over 300. So snow lingers longer up there. They will of course find shelter in the depths of gorse bushes, but food is another matter.
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Old Monday 19th March 2018, 11:30   #7
Paul Longland
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A great question and one I was debating with a friend only the other day. My personal view is that Cettis should be ok as their distribution is wider and less strictly habitat dependent than Dartfords. I do however have some serious concerns for the latter and would not be surprised if we see a fall in numbers in the short term. The biggest problem would be if the icy blasts continue into next month or are repeated over a number of winters. The "big freeze" of 62/63 (and before anyone comments I was too young to remember it) reportedly wiped out around 2/3 of the wren population, yet within 5 years numbers were almost double those pre freeze which shows that short term adverse conditions can actually benefit a species overall as there is less competition for nesting sites and food etc.
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Old Monday 19th March 2018, 13:39   #8
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We discussed all this in 2009/10
Worth a read imho if you're interested.
But yes, this is a good question Stewart, and very much worth bringing up.
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Old Monday 19th March 2018, 15:34   #9
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Having not really fallen until late on Saturday the snow cover hereabouts is practically gone (as at Monday afternoon) and the temperature is rising, though I believe we are threatened with frost tonight.

Given the brevity of both snow snaps and the otherwise mild winter I'm not expecting a massive effect on Dartford numbers, certainly nothing that should be beyond the ability of the population to replace before summer's end.

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Old Tuesday 20th March 2018, 13:22   #10
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Originally Posted by davercox View Post
We discussed all this in 2009/10
Worth a read imho if you're interested.
But yes, this is a good question Stewart, and very much worth bringing up.
Thanks for this link, Dave. I wasn't aware of the discussion from 8 years ago - it was very interesting to read. KSR1 said that he was "starting to propose some research", which sounds extremely tentative. I wonder if anything came of it.

When I started this thread, I suppose I was hoping for some (albeit anecdotal) comments about others' recent experiences (from 'No, I've still been tripping over them all over the place on my recent heathland visits', to 'I've had a similar experience of neither sight nor sound on my recent heathland visits').

My suspicion is that the 'Beasts from the East' will have caused some Dartford Warbler causalities, but not sufficient to have had any serious long-term impact.

Stewart
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Old Tuesday 20th March 2018, 14:09   #11
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My first visit to the site so can't compare to before the cold snap, but I found 3 pairs of Dartford Warblers relatively easily in an hours walk across a heath in Surrey last week
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